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Vegetation survey data to understand drivers of plant rarity

Citation

Sritharan, Meena (2021), Vegetation survey data to understand drivers of plant rarity, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.2z34tmpnp

Abstract

Determining the drivers of plant rarity is a major challenge in ecology. Analysing spatial associations between different plant species can provide an exploratory avenue for understanding the ecological drivers of plant rarity. Here, we examined the different types of spatial associations between rare and common plants to determine if they influence the occurrence patterns of rare species. We completed vegetation surveys at 86 sites in woodland, forest, and heath communities in south-east Australia. We also examined two different rarity measures to quantify how categorisation criteria affected our results. Rare species were more likely to have positive associations with both rare and common species across all three vegetation communities. However, common species had positive or negative associations with rare and other common species, depending on the vegetation community in which they occurred. Rare species were positively associated with species diversity in forest communities. In woodland communities, rare species were associated negatively with species diversity but positively associated with species evenness. Rare species with high habitat specificity were more clustered spatially than expected by chance. Efforts to understand the drivers of plant rarity should use rarity definitions that consider habitat specificity. Our findings suggest that examining spatial associations between plants can help understand the drivers of plant rarity.

Methods

Vegetation data were collected across Booderee National Park across 86 sites surveyed, across the three major vegetation communities across Booderee National Park. We established a 10 m by 10 m plot at each of the 86 sites and surveyed 100 one metre by one-metre quadrats within the plot by creating a ten by ten-unit grid. We identified and recorded the presence of all plant species within each one-metre square quadrat.

Data were processed to calculate the number of rare species present at each site, using two different categorisations of species rarity. Species diversity, evenness and density were also collated at each site. Data also contains the elevation, north and east aspect of each site surveyed.

Usage Notes

See Readme file.

Funding

Threatened Species Recovery Hub